Try this meditation the next time you need some headspace.
1) Find a comfortable, quiet space where you won’t be disturbed, and sit down and close your eyes. (Don’t lie down because you might fall asleep and that isn’t the point of this exercise.)
2) Imagine you’re sitting by the side of a gently flowing stream. Picture this in your mind now, and use your senses to really make the scene vivid. What can you see? Smell? Hear?
3) Now, for the next few minutes, sit by this stream and for every thought that pops into your head – positive, negative, unformed – imagine that you’re placing that thought on a leaf and letting it float downstream.
4) If your thoughts stop, just watch the stream. When they start again, carry on with the exercise.
5) If you get distracted and forget what you’re meant to be doing, that’s ok. Just bring back your attention when you realise that it’s wandered, and start placing thoughts on leaves again.
6) Let the stream flow at its own rate; don’t try to wash away the leaves. Let them float away in their time.
7) If a leaf – or thought – gets stuck, let it hang around. Don’t force it to float away. Let it float away when it can.
8) If a difficult feeling arises, just acknowledge it. Just say “here’s a feeling of anger/impatience/frustration/etc.” Then place those words on a leaf, and let the leaf float away.
9) Again and again, your thoughts will hook you and you’ll get distracted. This is normal and natural and will keep happening. Just keep returning to the exercise when you realise this has happened.
10) When you are ready, bring the exercise to an end. Tune back into your surroundings and open your eyes. Welcome back.
– Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd